In the business world, risk-taking can be a daunting prospect — failure can endanger your professional aspirations and your organization at large. But studies show that when assessing risk, we tend to overestimate the probability of something going wrong.
While it might seem wise to err on the side of caution, this conservative approach stymies our ability to innovate, think outside the box, and learn from our mistakes. Driven by fear, many employees avoid risk-taking behavior altogether, instead of sticking to a narrow script and achieving the bare minimum needed to stay afloat.
If enacted with full transparency, risk-taking can increase engagement and accountability, propelling your entire business towards its Key Results. Here are three reasons why leaders should begin to foster a culture of risk-taking.
1. Risk-Taking Encourages Ownership and Accountability
When an employee takes a risk, they must bear full responsibility for the outcome — for better or for worse. If an employee truly believes that his or her out-of-the-box solution could move the team closer to the company’s Key Results, then it’s a risk worth taking. If the solution works, employees gain a sense of pride and satisfaction in their work and will be more motivated to take risks in the future. And in the event that things do not go as planned, employees can take ownership of their actions and move on, eliminating counterproductive finger-pointing and the “blame game.”
2. Inaction Comes at a High Price
Inaction costs much more than most leaders realize. In a world where technological advances move industries forward at lightning speed, “playing it safe” is not actually very safe at all. Encourage your team to come forward with new ideas and strategies, especially those that integrate innovative technologies and cutting-edge processes — otherwise, you may find yourself falling behind the competition.
3. Innovation is Born from a Fail-Fast Approach
There are different types of failure — and not all of them are bad! People who rock the boat, push back against established wisdom, and dare to test out innovative strategies are bound to fall short now and again. The mark of a good risk-taker, though, is how they bounce back from failure. Create a culture in which you reward your employees’ innovative efforts, no matter the outcome.
Risk-taking encourages transparency, ownership, and accountability. Don’t let your employees fall into the trap of just fulfilling duties and punching a timecard. Encourage each and every member of your team to think creatively and share their ideas with others. When you reward risk-taking, employees will take accountability for both the company’s successes and failures, ultimately helping your organization achieve its Key Results.